I was putting away suitcases from holiday and work travel. As I emptied out the little odds and ends it got me to thinking about emotional baggage. According to the urban dictionary the word baggage now has additional meaning beyond a container used to travel. It states that painful memories, mistrust and hurt carried around from past sexual or emotional rejection.
All of us have baggage. But for a visual example, some of us have little paper bags and others are running around trying to pull cargo containers with them. What is your bag? Is it a backpack, a suitcase or more? A fun way to find this is to sit down with colored pencils and draw a picture of yourself chained to a container big enough to hold all your rejections, hurts and even false beliefs getting in the way of your happiness.
We need to clean out our container. If you are chained to it and it is bigger than a backpack you are not going to have a very easy time moving forward in life. It anchors you and demands your attention. Your experiences have to filter through all that. If your container is large, the reality comes out distorted.
Here are the most common baggage types in your container:
To make mistakes is to be human, no one gets through life without making some big mistakes. It is natural to feel guilt when you hurt someone or even break our internal rules of behavior is part of our nature. However, hanging onto that guilt to punish ourselves for weeks, months years is not part of our nature and it never resolves the guilt.
Letting Go of Guilt
One of the things to watch for is words like what if and should have. Stop the retroactive self-judgement, and stop playing the "what if" and "should have" games. Practice positive affirmation by stating (out loud) good things you have done, personality traits you're proud of, and blessings you're grateful for. Forgive yourself, and if possible, seek forgiveness from those you've wronged.
It is easy to fall into a crevice of regret. It is usually seen when one is imagining what life would have been if we hadn’t done ______________. We can’t really predict the future and we already pointed at not punish ourselves for a long period of time. A study in Germany found that those that who can let go of regret were more cheerful and reported higher levels of happiness later in life.
Letting Go of Regret
You are no longer a victim of your past mistakes so you have to act against that tendency to share. Stop treating yourself like the victim. Remind yourself of decisions you're proud of, like having kids, donating to charity, or saying no to that slice of cake.)
Shame occurs when we look at situations where we have let someone else take advantage of our generosity It also can occur after you violate your own moral code or are forced to live a lie. When this occurs, we are no longer expressing our truths. If you can’t express your own truth then unintentional feelings of shame become prevalent.
Letting Go of Shame
The way to break this cycle of negative emotion is to stop internalizing it. If you can, tell someone you trust about the shame, and the events that sparked it. If you're not ready to speak the words aloud, write them in a journal. Also realize that you have the right to experience the other emotions — anger or sadness — that come along with shame. Allowing yourself to acknowledge what happened, and your own innocence, is the first step.
When someone wrongs us, or we observe injustice, anger is the natural reaction. Hanging on to this anger is unnatural, and over time can cause physical problems such as depression and heart problems. It also interferes in those seeking to recovery from addiction.
Letting Go of Anger
First, allow yourself to feel it fully without shame. Allow yourself to rant or cry or journal about it, but only for a set amount of time. When the time's up, remind yourself that the only person affected by your anger is you: Simply having the anger doesn't hurt the person who caused it in any way. If you can do so calmly, explain your anger to the person who sparked it. If they ask for forgiveness, give it. If they don't, realize it's now their problem and not yours. It can also be helpful to take responsibility for your role in the situation. Instead of blaming others, ask yourself "What could I have done better?" You might be surprised how empowered you feel.
5. Past Relationships
Romantic or not, we've all been involved in a toxic relationship. The time we spent with these people impacts us deeply. Maybe it was abusive. Maybe it was unrequited love. Maybe we were abandoned or cheated on. Allowing these past relationships to affect our current lives is a recipe for disaster.
Letting Go of Past Relationships
Write a letter to the person. Say all the things you wish you'd said when they were around. Send it if you feel like it. Put it in a drawer if you don't. Try to find the lesson in the experience. If you learned something, it was not pointless. "Although you might like to avoid the inner work necessary to achieve a healthier relationship, you have to appreciate that with insight you grow to make fewer mistakes," explains soulmate expert Ariadne Green.
6. Stress and Worry
Between work, family, and friends, there is no shortage of stress in our lives. We've conditioned ourselves to believe that stress equals productivity, but carrying around too much of it is really a shortcut to total burnout.
Letting Go of Stress
First, look at a bigger picture. Is the thing you are stressing about important to your bigger picture. If it isn’t, cut the cause from your life. Often, however, it is part of our bigger picture. Look for ways to break the stressor in to multiple smaller goals and give yourself credit for each small success.
We are not talking fear of heights or snakes. We are talking about the fear that grabs our heart when we think about the future, the possibility of failure or people/situations that where we might be judged. Fear can be locked into our baggage and prevent us from enjoying people and situations important.
Letting Go of Fear
Most people do not like what they need to do to reduce such fears. The truth is you need to face the things you fear starting will small doses or goals. When we do this, we can sound find ourselves going beyond what we thought possible.
What baggage have you been be to drop? Share how you did it.